[LIFESTYLE] Cycling to Work #ThisGirlCan

I used to be on my bike a lot, I used to run a lot, go to multiple gym sessions … all sorts. Various illnesses and issues meant that over the last few years I’ve really only done gentle walks, swims, and karate (I need to get back into that!) … but #ThisGirlCan… and I’ve been getting back on the horse… well, the bike!

Over the summer, I’ve been getting used to the bike again, with help from TFGM Cycling, including provision of a safe traffic-free-as-possible route on PlotARoute, and a confidence training session, and I’m also signed up for a maintenance training course, as I’ve been gradually equipping myself! Over the last 5 weeks I’ve been building up cycling into work, starting with one day, now onto 3-days a week, max will be 4.

My motivations … I was spending 45-60+ minutes commuting via train/bus/foot anyway – the bus spends a lot of time in traffic/at stops, and if I’m not spending money on other forms of transport, I can use it to hire my lovely cleaner, Sarah. I’m too tired of an evening to go to the gym, and not really enjoying it anyway without a buddy to go with, so also saving that ££ – and I can go to the Aquatics Centre for the odd swim!

Dave Walker, one of my favourite cartoonists, captures this pretty well here, and yes, I’m sleeping better too!

Dave Walker Cartoon
Used with permission @davewalker

This motivation (as I’ve been trying to get students to think about their motivations today, it’s on my mind!) has to keep me going through rainy days, cold days, buying extra bits of kit, and falling off the bike (so far, one fall into a very solid metal barrier, and an ‘unexpected stop’ into a kerb that left me tangled in the frame, and still rather purple from that (that was Friday) … have cycled the last couple of days without incident, and once I can sort RSI-type symptoms in my thumbs it’s actually quite pleasant … once you ignore smashed bits of glass in the road, crazy other road users, pavement users who don’t look before stepping in the road, etc..

First day back to cycle commuting after Friday’s accident. Waited for quieter roads!!

A photo posted by Bex Lewis (@drbexl) on

I’ve been playing with Strava as an app, as I like the social aspect to exercise (though getting to work feels very functional) – it disappointed me yesterday by giving the mileage 2-3 miles short, but otherwise it’s been interesting, and nice to get a thumbs up from other friends out and about!

I can put in swimming, hiking (although that confuses it), I don’t run so… but you can see where the big hikes are:strava-activity

At the end of each journey it generates a report like this, giving distance, time, speed, etc – and also seems to give awards for ‘Personal Record’ – gamifying exercise:


There’s a privacy setting on the app, where you can set boundaries for private areas, which the app shouldn’t show to your friends on Strava, and you can also share each route with Facebook (once you select, it defaults to sharing everything, so I’ve deselected that!). Once cycling becomes just an everyday event, maybe I’ll abandon the app – let’s see!

I’m also enjoying getting involved with hiking, having joined The Ramblers, particularly the Manchester Weekend Walkers, and anything that MMU organises… and for a less strenuous day, rejoined The National Trust.